ROBERT MARSELJE: Tear Drops (2020)
Updated: Mar 1, 2021
“This is a very solid album of romance and space adventures on Berlin School, ballads and E-Rock. Let's hope not to wait another 5 years”
1 Return to Dueepra 4 6:42
2 Chasing Atmospheres 8:15
3 Find me a Card 4:56
4 The Story so far 5:45
5 A Walk on the Bridge 6:40
6 Journey to Heaven 7:45
7 Coming Home 3:19
8 Se(que)nding to a Dream 18:03
9 Where is my Phone 9:46
10 Departure from Dueepra 4 7:17
(CD/DDL 78:33) (V.F.)
(Melodic, Sequencers, Indie)
The fragility of the piano notes already falling with a melancholy melody quickly connects with my emotions. I, O great sensitive person before the Eternal I am! Return to Dueepra 4, I who was also thinking of a science fiction thing, lets drop electronic rustling that sounds like a kind of coded dialogue. Shortly after, a flute distances me from this probability. The piano ballad leans on a bass line of which dull impulses support this ambient rhythm whereas its beauty begins to dance with various electronic elements, making me think of Johannes Schmoelling wanting to avoid any sardonic comparisons with Vangelis. Who is Robert Marselje? The results of my research have given me a Dutch musician who already touched EM in the early 90's with the albums The Force of Music and Waves in the Sky, released by the ancestor of Groove nl, CUE Records nl in 93 and 95. Keyboardist playing in rock bands, it's rather another EM album that he released with Jean Paul Van Engelen in 1995 which has quite seduced Berlin School aficionados, the album The Blue Team. So, he makes a comeback some 5 years later with the album TEAR DROPS on Groove. And although Return to Dueepra 4 could leads us to think that the album bears the weight of its title, that is badly knowing Ron Boots!
Winding winds chasing grainy particles are at the origin of Chasing Atmospheres' pensive piano. This sweet mortuary ode drops its emotions which are quickly lapidated by these winds which finally get the better of this nostalgia just before the 3rd minute. The electronic winds storm more than at the beginning, initiating a superb industrial down-tempo transported by good arrangements towards an electronic rock without call. A rock whipped by a boosted electronic drums and a bass line too greedy for its explosive flow. Then follows a violent attack of the synthesizer with countless solos belonging to the MIDI years. A tone that also envelops Chasing Atmospheres. But it's not big deal. It goes so fast and so violently that our ears started humming around the 4th minute. Find me a Card follows with an elastic rhythm sewn on the advance of a bass sequence jumping like in One of These Days (Pink Floyd) in slow motion. The boxed percussions lay the foundations for another exciting electronic rock overflown by synth solos in a dramatic tone at the French School of the 70's, notably Thierry Fervant. The Story so far is a light little thing! An electronic melody based on the chords of a piano and on the circular percussive clicks which attract all the musicality in its spheroidal ball. Nice and peaceful, it flows very well! Like A Walk on the Bridge, title conceived like Chasing Atmospheres but in an ambience where a bridge is covered of mist. The rhythm which emerges after 3 minutes is a ballad nourished by solos of a synth-which-sounds-like-a-guitar-but-which-clearly-is-not-one.
Journey to Heaven clings to the acoustic finale of A Walk on the Bridge with a piano weaver of melancholy, as in these titles from TEAR DROPS whose essences of a pianist and his misty pond under a full moon sky flood our senses, like nourish the soul with nocturnal fantasies. Retaining its status as an ambient ballad, the track progresses with a latent intensity. The mist which surrounds it and this ambient rhythm which supports it in a chthonic passage are elements which in no way erase this perception of twilight eccentricity. This is a great title which is followed by another ballad, splendid this time, on the nostalgia of a piano so much clearer with a soul of infinite love in an almost electric tonality. The resonance of the notes clearly joins these strings that make the soul shiver. But you know; I am a being of romance! 😊 Romance like in those atmospheric thunders and rumblings that shake the opening of Se(que)nding to a Dream. There is a fascinating sound effect in this opening, much like the sound of rain on a puddle of water, amplified and sequenced which serves as an alternative-acoustic current between the jerky flow of the keyboard and these percussive effects. This longest title of TEAR DROPS, we speak of 18 minutes, evolves in minimalist mode with some nuances in its rhythmic development. I am talking about slight zigzag effects under the strength of the winds and these thunders which never cease to shake the ambiences and this series of jumping keys rolling in loops in a vision of modern Klaus Schulze. The chthonian voices being felt more and more, a big organ pad breaks this frenetic rhythm. This organ throws curt pads, some are even stretched, over nearly 60 seconds, bringing Se(que)nding to a Dream towards a cosmic phase where murmurs, more angelic this time, initiate calm and serenity with chords of an astral xylophone which seem to inspire the chants from the synth. It sounds like the conclusion of a war film where the stake is the Moon! This is what I call a very solid track that hasn't stolen a single second from this album. It would have been a great finale to this new album from Robert Marselje, except that the latter offers an electronic rhythm inspired by Tangerine Dream in the time when Chris Franke was thinking of leaving the ship. Where is my Phone has not the presence of no other title on TEAR DROPS, while Departure from Dueepra has this little thing that touches the soul on a resonating electronic-metallic rhythm built on an intuitive melody that eats our emotions by inside. That doesn't excuse Where is my Phone but it ends this Dutch musician's comeback album with a very beautiful title.
Honestly, I was more than captivated by this album which mixes romance and space adventures between ballads and Berlin School without forgetting some good electronic rocks. Another great Groove achievement that has no equal to get us a rabbit out of its hat in a style that the Dutch label has been exploiting for almost 30 years. TEAR DROPS is a very solid Robert Marselje album… I just hope there is more to come and not only in five years!
Sylvain Lupari (March 1st, 2021) *****
Available at Groove NL